Have you ever tried baked spaghetti? At our house, one of our favorite great American recipes is spaghetti. What’s that – you thought spaghetti was Italian? Okay, I’ll say it’s an Italian-American recipe. I think my husband could eat spaghetti or similar dishes just about every day. I make several different versions of the dish, but this is definitely one of my preferred methods. In fact, I think it might be my favorite. I think I like it because everything “sticks together” better. You don’t have to chase the pasta all over your plate, and the cheese is nicely melted, soft, and gooey. And when you’re cooking for kids, you’ll find that baked spaghetti is much easier for them to eat because when you cut the spaghetti casserole with a serving spoon to serve it, it breaks the long noodles into more manageable lengths. Next time you’re craving a hearty pasta dish with homemade spaghetti sauce, give my baked spaghetti a try!
Homemade Spaghetti Sauce
Although some commercially prepared spaghetti sauce is pretty good, I like mine a lot better. Homemade spaghetti sauce is fairly easy to make, especially if you use canned tomato products. When we used to grow a lot of tomatoes in our garden, I made homemade spaghetti sauce from scratch with fresh tomatoes. That’s the best spaghetti sauce ever, but it’s a lot of work!
If you don’t have any fresh basil, use dried instead, but use only one-third as much because the dried version is more concentrated. Also, I like a sweet spaghetti sauce, but if you don’t, omit the sugar. An Italian pal of mine once told me that adding a little sugar to spaghetti sauce is an old Italian tradition. I have no way of knowing if that’s true or not, but I do like the taste.
You might also want to add other ingredients to your homemade spaghetti sauce, like Italian sausage, bay leaf, mushrooms, bell pepper, black olives, green olives, anchovy paste, and/or pepperoni. I use a lot of cheese in this recipe, but you might prefer to use less. You might also want to use more or less garlic.
When I’m making homemade spaghetti sauce for my baked spaghetti recipe, I make it a little thinner than I do for my traditional spaghetti. For the latter, I like the sauce to be thick enough to stand a spoon, but I don’t want it that thick for baked spaghetti because the heat from the oven will thicken the sauce somewhat. Also, a slightly thinner spaghetti sauce will keep the noodles from drying out.
Baked spaghetti makes a wonderful entrée. Some people refer to it as baked spaghetti casserole. I guess that’s because it’s cooked in a casserole dish, and I suppose it does qualify as a casserole. For a complete meal that covers all the major food groups, all you really need to add is a tossed salad. The baked spaghetti recipe has the bread group, the meat group, and the dairy group covered, all by itself. Something else I really like about baked spaghetti is that I can make it ahead of time and bake it just before we’re ready for dinner. If you want to do that, just cover the put-together casserole tightly with aluminum foil or plastic food wrap and keep it in the fridge.
Baked spaghetti is also good warmed up the next day. I leave any leftover spaghetti in the casserole dish and cover it with two or three thicknesses of damp paper towels. I then cover the whole dish tightly with foil or plastic food wrap. You can warm the leftovers in the oven, but it’s better to do it in the microwave because the microwave won’t dry out the spaghetti.
Baked Spaghetti Recipe
This baked spaghetti recipe makes a lot of spaghetti. I make it in two separate dishes, and I often send one home with my daughter when she stops by my house after work. I enjoy making and sharing food with my family and friends, and she enjoys not having to cook after working a ten or eleven-hour day as a nurse. It’s a win-win situation for both parties.
Rate my baked spaghetti recipe. Thanks!
- 1 1/2 - 2 pounds ground beef
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 2 tablespoons fresh chopped basil
- 1 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- 8 serving size box spaghetti
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 28-ounce can Hunt's crushed tomatoes
- 2 cans tomato sauce
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon marjoram
- salt, to taste
- 4 cups (or more) shredded mozzarella cheese
- Brown ground beef and onions until meat is just done. Drain and set aside. Crumble meat.
- Sauté fresh basil, fresh parsley, and garlic in beef drippings for one minute. Use a slotted or pierced spoon to remove.
- Cook spaghetti in salted water and olive oil, according to directions on box. Cook at the least amount of time the directions suggest.
- While the pasta is cooking, make the sauce. Combine all remaining ingredients, except for the mozzarella cheese, in a large bowl. Stir in crumbled ground beef and onion. Add the sautéed herbs.
- When pasta is done, drain it well. Pour pasta into two baking dishes. I use a 13 x 9 dish and a smaller dish. Cover the pasta with the sauce. Sprinkle the mozzarella cheese over the top.
- Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes or so, until cheese has melted and spaghetti casserole is slightly firm. For a real feast, serve garlic bread, a green salad, fresh fruit, and a nice glass of red wine with your baked spaghetti.
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